“Our Lenten theme Ignite Hope, is a call to be…
KOTA KINABALU – The inaugural Christian education forum held at Sacred Heart Parish Centre here drew almost 400 participants on 13 May 2017.
The participants came from all over Sabah and from the different Christian denominations under the umbrella of Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) and Commission on Sabah Affairs (COSA).
Among those present were Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese and Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese.
The forum was organised out of concern for the state of the mission schools. As former SCC president Rev Jerry Dusing noted in his message: “We are not passive observers but stakeholders in the education venture, be it as owners of mission schools, church community leaders, parents and educators. By heeding the Lord’s call to lift our eyes to the opportunities available to us, we can make a difference and take our schools to next level.”
The keynote address on reclaiming the ethos, character and traditions of mission schools was delivered by Bishop Melter Jiki Tais, the current SCC president.
Following the keynote address, the participants went into their respective tracks: preschool, primary and secondary.
In each track, the speakers touched on the areas of concerns.
Under the preschool track, the speaker noted that 72 percent of church-run kindergartens are located in the rural areas while the remaining 28 percent are in city or town areas. Its main challenges are funding and government officers interfering with programmes of private schools in the rural areas.
The issues facing primary school track are (1) fear of school heads to practise and uphold the ethos, character and traditions of mission schools; (2) competency of school heads; (3) mission schools have lost their lustre as schools of choice; (4) teaching of moral education lacks Christian values; (5) the priority for professional development of teachers at government schools in higher than mission schools; (6) students face real social problems that need to be addressed; (7) lack of social responsibility and action among the school community; and (8) insufficient resources to carry out school activities or improve school infrastructure.
In order to make a difference by taking the mission schools to the next level under the secondary school track, there is a need to inculcate the seven 21st century lifelong skills among the students: (1) critical thinking/doing; (2) creativity; (3) collaboration; (4) cross-cultural understanding; (5) communication; (6) computing; and (7) career & learning self-reliance.
The speakers also touched on the issues and challenges faced by the teachers in the current education system such as lack of commitment and passion in the teaching profession, inadequate school equipment/teaching aids, and blame the kids syndrome with some suggestions. There is a need to look into each child’s stage of learning development. There is also a call on community members to participate, volunteer, support, contribute, appreciate and recognise the teaching profession.
Lastly, the identity of the mission schools was also brought out. Each mission school must reflect the Christian values and beliefs in all aspects of the school management and running of the school.
The afternoon was taken up with a workshop (small group discussion), reporting and response time for the three tracks.
The participants also came out with a forum resolution and follow-up mechanism before the event concluded with a closing prayer.